Career Loving Parent – Change Your Words, Change Your Thoughts

Sometimes it is all about words. The other day I was reading a book that talked about ‘working mom’ vs. ‘stay at home mom’. This book talked about how the working mom term has a heaviness to it… as if working meant neglecting of our children or choosing our career over our family. The book offered up a term – Career Loving Parent. It isn’t that I am choosing work over my kids, but that I also love my career.

I know… it is just a change of words. But for many Career Loving Parents that I talk to, there is a lot of guilt attached to wanting to pursue a meaningful and fulfilling career. No matter how much I love what I do, the guilt of putting too much time into work always seems to creep up for me.

Over the last few weeks, I have been working INSANE hours juggling many events, traveling for my volunteer StartupPG work plus trying to keep my business going too. Luckily for me, I have an amazingly supportive husband that can be there with our kids while juggling his career. The kids at least have one parent with them at all times.

I am currently in Montreal as I type this and my kids are back at home in BC.

For those of you fellow Career Loving Parents, I thought I’d share this with you. I showed a colleague here on my trip a photo of this and he said, “You should share this!” So here it is:

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Something my kids and I have been doing for a few months now is keep a letter journal.

Prior to leaving, I count down how many nights I am away. And before I leave for my trip, I write a letter to my kids (and hubby and dog!) each night that I am away. The letter is folded within the book and sealed with a sticker so that the kids can’t open it until the night they are supposed to.

I then also leave 2 pages after each entry (1 for each kid) for them to write me a letter back. Their dad then photographs their response and texts me the image each night. We usually try to talk every night even when I am away, but it depends on time zones and schedules etc. It started when I was in the city and missed dinner more than once a week. I would write them a letter and have them write me one back.

Keeping it in a bound journal book means you can have it all in one place. (Don’t forget to write the dates.) It is amazing to look back even for the short few months since we started it. Our communications have changed so much. My kids can write letters and not just draw pictures.

Having this communication recorded in a journal will capture this slice of time (especially the stuff I feel like I am missing) and give me something to look back on for years to come.

If you have older kids, you might be thinking, “Well, your kids are young… that works for you.” But I believe that at any point, you can write your kids a letter. Stumped for what to write about… Try the “Did you know?” questions. (Great article here about Family Stories that Bind Us in the NY Times!)

Make this the opportunity where you tell the history of your family. “Did you know that when I was your age my favorite thing to do was (fill in the blank). Now your turn, tell me what your favorite thing to do is for this week/month/year.”

As children grow up, it is important that they DON’T see their parents as perfect. That stories of failures, mistakes and stumbles are important to share so that when they stumble, it doesn’t rock their world, but instead teaches our kids to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Being vulnerable makes you human and connects you every single time to the human experience.

I also believe that there is a wisdom that comes with age because we are able to look back at things that looked like failures at the time and see the divine intervention… “Thank goodness I never got X-job, or married that guy…but at the time, I felt like this… I later learned this lesson…”

By figuring out creative ways to create more moments with our children means that the times we are apart only has to do with physical distance but not a connection of hearts.

How do you keep it together and ‘try’ to balance both loving your family and career? I would love to hear from you, so feel free to share your feedback.